The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released its Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR), regarding airline operational data on punctuality, mishandled baggage, wheelchairs, among others, for July of this year.
Thus during the first seven months of 2023, 1.7% of flights were cancelled, well below the 3.0% cancellation rate of the first seven months of last year and the 2.4% cancellation rate of the first seven months of 2019 before the pandemic.
In July 2023, merchant airlines handled 45.6 million bags and recorded a lost baggage rate of 0.75%, higher than both the 0.70% rate in June 2023 and the 0.64% rate in July 2022.
For mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, in July 2023, carriers reported checking 81,536 wheelchairs and scooters, of this amount they reported mishandling 1,137, representing a 1.39% rate of mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, lower than the 1.45% rate in June 2023, and the 1.63% mishandled rate in July 2022.
DOT uses ATCR data, consumer complaints, and other information it obtains from airlines to inform its enforcement activities and the adequacy of existing rules.
This year 2023, DOT has already issued the largest fines in the history of the consumer protection office based on complaints received.
In addition, since the pandemic began, DOT has helped return more than $2.5 billion in refunds to travelers.
He also reported that, following a two-year effort by DOT to improve the passenger experience, the 10 largest airlines now guarantee free meals and reservation changes, and nine guarantee hotel accommodations as part of the Department’s Airline Customer Service Panel.
It also expanded the FlightRights.Gov panel to highlight which airlines, if any, offer cash compensation, award travel credits or vouchers, award frequent flyer miles when they cause flight delays or cancellations.